Thursday, July 5, 2012

Under Construction

It's official! Blogger and I are breaking up :-) I am going to switch over to another blog host, and be better for it! Please stay tuned...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Stress and The Unexpected: Rule #4

My grandmother used to say, "Just keep smiling." My mom used to say, "There are no problems, only solutions." I always say, "If it weren't fun I wouldn't do it. See how much fun I'm having?" Other people say, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger." We all have our quips. But why? What are we really telling ourselves with these sayings? That we are positive people, and that nothing can get in our way? Absolutely, yes. But if you think about it, these cute little sayings only come out like our china and white linens...for a special occasion. What is this something special...the unexpected. Something has thrown us for a loop. Something that is outside the standard we have created for ourselves. Something we never saw coming. Something has just hit us over the backside, and we need a minute to process whatever in the world just happened! I was thinking about all the unexpected things life has put in the path of my loved ones. From divorce, premature death, and disease to layoffs, lawsuits, and even layovers. These events, with out fail, put a kink in our plans. I was thinking about how my family and friends have handled the unexpected loops life has thrown at us. I am proud to be a part of this group of family and friends, because everyone I know handles these loops with style and grace. Sometimes, when we are hit with the unexpected, it's the little things that get lost in the shuffle. For example, a friend of mine was going through one of these life's loops, and I was with her in her car. With everything going on, she forgot to get gas, and was on fumes. She decides that her home was closer than the gas station, so we drive back to her house. When we pull into her garage, she gets out the fuel used for the lawn mower and fills it up the car enough to get us to the gas station. Sometimes, these loops try to keep us secluded. My mom used to take the bull by the horns with her loop. She would hardly ever feel well, and she adapted a motto, "I can feel bad at home, or I can feel bad at (insert place to go, ie movies, restaurant, shopping, etc.). I'm going to (place)." Then, sometimes, the loop will whittle us down to the bare minimum. How many bags of rice and beans and Ramen noodles have we all eaten during times of dismal finances? I can't eat grilled cheese sandwiches anymore, but those were a delicacy for a while back in the day! So, Rule #4. When I was younger, I was afraid of the unexpected. I would cower away from it, and fight it tooth and nail. Who really wants to deal with any of this crap, anyway?!! After years of learning the hard way, I gave in, and Rule #4 was born: Don't be afraid to improvise. If you hold on to your expectation of what "should" be normal, you will go insane. If you don't bend, you WILL break. You don't want to break. Improvise. Do not be afraid to go with the flow. Eventually, the unexpected will become the new normal. You will end up on the other side of the loop with a "smile", "solutions", "fun", and "strength." Rule #4: Don't be afraid to improvise!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stress and The Argument: Rule #3

I was in Starbucks tonight. They have a new coffee flavor/roast out, the name of which I do not recall. I asked the barista how the new roast tasted, and he described it as light and blonde. I don't particularly like lighter coffees. I'm more of a bold coffee girl. I say, "Nah, I'll take the Pike's roast." He proceeds to pour me a cup of the new roast. When he turns around, I say, "I'm sorry, but I wanted the Pike's roast." He rolls his eyes at me, turns around, pours out that coffee, and pours the right one in. Kevin was with me, so I asked him, "did I not say that right?" Kevin told me he heard Pike's the first time. Obviously, the barista did not, EVEN THOUGH those were the words that came out of my mouth. How often does this happen? We say exactly what we mean to say, word for word, and the person hearing us interprets them with an entirely different meaning? ALL THE TIME!! And, how often does this result into an argument? More often than we would like. It is unfortunate that nobody is immune to this communication gaff. To me, an argument is one of the most stressful things I can be a part of. It drains me of so much energy, mentally and emotionally. Both parties are usually feeling frustrated and upset, both parties are usually trying vehemently to make their point over the other, and both parties are usually getting nowhere fast. How can this happen when intentions were in the right place? How can this happen when I know the person I'm talking to very well, and the fact that I'm arguing with this person is more insane than the actual argument? How can they not understand what I'm trying to say, when I couldn't be more clear? The answer...who in the world knows! At some point though, in order to move on, someone has got to give. Someone has to suck it up and cede the argument, and that someone should be you! Even if I'm right, and they clearly just don't get it?? (Insert deep breath) Yes, even if you're right. These things can go on for days, and for what reason? At what cost? Maybe they are having a bad day. Maybe you are having a bad day. Maybe, walking away revisiting it will fix it. How much stress can be avoided by taking a step back, taking responsibility for your part in the argument, and seeking to restore the relationship? LOTS! And there you have Rule #3: When arguing, take a step back, take responsibility for your part, and seek to restore the relationship. This rule is special, because there is a 3a. If you end up not being the person that takes the first step back (hey, it happens), and the other person begins to apologize, calm down enough to listen. An apology is taking responsibility for their part. Listen to them! I would venture to guess that nobody likes arguing (well, I have this ex-boyfriend that loved a good verbal sparring match...some people are weird!). I know we can't live in peace with all people all the time, but we should make every effort to do the best we can. So with that, may your arguments last a short time, and your relationships last forever.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stress and The Nectar Novice: Rule #2

A little background...I grew up in a strict Christian home. Alcohol was the forbidden fruit. I actually didn't drink until I was 21, and then it was only to see what it tasted like. I was not a party girl, and to this day, hardly ever drink. I now see where my being a late bloomer was probably a good idea. About 7 years ago, I was in Denver for work, and a group of us went to dinner at a brewery. Unknown to this nectar novice and native of the flatlands (Texas), altitude changes ones' tolerance for alcohol. I indulged in ONE of their homemade brews, and became the new poster child for "Chatty Cathy." I proceeded to answer my boss' boss' question, "How are things at your clinic?" by bashing my boss who was not present. OOPS! I did not get fired, but upon return to the flatlands, I was greatly scorned by a seething boss. Before this meeting happened, I was pacing the sidewalk and calling all friends for advice. There was tension between us after the meeting for a good time to come. It was after this incident I invoked Rule #2: DO NOT drink with work people! Reduce work stress, right? Fast forward to this week...I was attending my graduation from a leadership class given by my employer. It was at a local winery. (Do you see where this is going...OY!) I really have stuck to my rule for 7 years. However, somewhere between my ears I thought, one glass of wine won't kill me...I'm in the flatlands! This party is for MY graduation, after all. Insert my ONE glass of wine. As I was working the room saying my hellos, I realized that because I have applied for a promotion, I should probably hob-nob with the Regional Director who could be my future boss. I'm not the best at idle chit-chat, but I thought of some little topics. We say our hellos, I tell her I've been reading a book she suggested. She says, "Yeah, it's a good book. I'm going to get more food." And...SHE WALKED AWAY!! FAIL! This is where my normal shy girl would show up and walk away. Did I?...oh, no I didn't! She returns, and I say, "I hear you were out on vacation." She thinks about that for a few seconds and says, "No, I had my gall bladder removed." I say, "OH! I'm sorry, I guess that's how rumors get started (insert stupid sheepish laugh)." She smiles and turns her back to me to talk to someone else. OY! I DID walk away at this point, tail between my legs, back to my comfort zone peeps. Was she really that hungry? Am I really that boring to talk to? Either way, I broke my rule, and experienced ANOTHER uncomfortable work scenario. Correlated or inconsequential, I will feel stress wondering if it was induced by my "Chatty Cathy." So, back to the basics. Avoid "Chatty Cathy" induced work stress!! Rule #2: DO NOT drink with work people!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stress and The Drama Queen: Rule #1

When I was in 8th grade, I landed the lead role in our school play "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" as, none other than, Lucy van Pelt. I bought a white dress and dyed it the perfect color blue, had boppy-socks and the infamous white and black saddle shoes. I got to play the part of swiping the football out from under Charlie Brown at the last minute, romantically chasing the piano savant Schroeder, and guiding fellow Peanuts characters to rational common sense and sanity for the cost of 5 cents as the know-it-all psychiatrist. Yes, oddly enough, one of Lucy's roles was to bring order to their stressful lives, even though, truth be told, she was more than likely the cause of this stress. Not only did she pull footballs, chase someone who was not interested in being chased,and give not-so-sound advice, she stole a security blanket, cheated on her school work, poked fun at all of her friends' lack of intelligence, then she would profess to be a queen so she could SHOUT at people. A poster child for drama. I wish I had a good segue into this next bit, but I don't, so I'm going to use the direct approach. I think a lot of times, we are the same. We cause the drama around us, and in turn, our stress levels rise. How often could we cut to the chase, but instead try to prove a point by manipulating the situation, purposefully causing drama, to truly bring our point home. I think this is something that is genetically programed in women. We own this. For example, how often do we think our man or friend should just know what we are thinking and what we want. I mean, for cryin' out loud, how long have we been together, or been friends?!!?? Instead of just spelling it out, we use our infamous line of interrogation that begins with the silent treatment. This is followed by some audible, yet unintelligible grunt sounds that maybe start occurring days later. And, finally, the dramatic bickering begins. "What do you mean you don't know I like 1 1/2 scoops of chocolate chips over my yogurt cup?" "How could you possibly think I would wear white shoes after Labor Day?" "OMG! When you're finished, PUT THE SEAT DOWN!!" And, men, don't think you get a pass! Playing stupid is NOT cool! "It was just one more round of golf. What's the big deal?" (On a Saturday when you know company is coming over for dinner). "Do you need help with anything?" (After the chores have already been done by someone else). Or trying to give the birthday cake/gift days later, and you act as if there's nothing wrong, because, shoot, better late than never, right? WRONG! So, something I have tried to incorporate into my life for many years now...cutting to the chase. Not an easy task, and as I have mentioned, we women own this drama queen thing. But instead of pouting, just say, "Put the stupid seat down!" Instead of dragging it out for days, say it at 2am when you've fallen in the toilet. Wake him up!! Men, resist the urge to play stupid, and be mature long enough to complete a chore. What about work? Maybe your boss scheduled a meeting, and you spend days preparing the most perfect presentation. At the last minute, the meeting is cancelled without being rescheduled. Instead of letting your frustration fester, find a way to explain your hard work to your boss. You still want credit for doing the work, don't you? Problems are solved, and life can go on. In the battle of Stress and the Drama Queen, humans can win. The Lucys out there will continue to pull the football, profess a heritage that is absurd, and manipulate any given situation. We, however, have the power within us to defeat the Lucys, and reduce stress in our lives. Conquer drama head on. Take care of it TODAY! If there is something eating you up, bring it up. Obviously, there are times the situation actually is more "dramatic" than a toilet seat lid, and those are the most important things to talk about. Whether it's family, friends, coworkers, or WHOEVER, the quicker you stop the drama, the quicker you'll have peace. Rule #1: Leave the drama at home, and stress will leave you alone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The End Of This Chapter

One year ago this weekend is when it all began. It seems to me that when you reach a milestone, like a one year anniversary, there should be some sort of closure. So, without further adieu, I will close this chapter in my life. A year ago this weekend, I was in Houston for my cousin's high school graduation party, leaving the roofers, who had not shown up in time to save our garage ceiling from caving in on our car after water had leaked through one of the three holes in our roof from a hard rain, in Kevin's capable hands. I was also mourning the fact that our adoption agency had "let our file expire" leaving us ineligible for the adoption process we had worked so hard for 3 YEARS to get through. While at this party, Kevin sent me a txt saying that after the roofers left, the pipe in our guest bathroom wall busted, sending water into the bathroom, hallway, what would have been the baby's room, and the guest room. He then started sending pics of the holes in the wall to repair said pipe. I was so glad he was there taking care of it and not me. Then, a couple of days later I was relaxing in Kemah, watching the shrimping boats pass the yachts coming in and out of port. (An interesting dichotomy for sure) There is nothing like eating Blue Bell Birthday Cake ice cream in a chocolate dipped sprinkle waffle cone (one of my absolute favorites, btw), rubbing your eye, and realizing you may just have pink eye. That was on a Monday afternoon. I went to the urgent care center, confirmed pink eye, got drops, and planned to go home Tuesday. NOPE! My dad, who lives in Houston, called and said he had been to the heart doctor earlier in the day, and he was having a surgery on his heart vein with all the stints on Thursday. OH! OK! SURE! I'll stick around. Literally, no joking, Kevin called me 10 minutes after I hung up with dad to tell me he had torn his calf muscle in a brutal game of kickball that night. WHAT?!?!! OH! OK! SURE! Call your mother! This is what I told him. I'm such a great wife. I told him what was going on, and of course he understood. Fast forward to Thursday, dad has his surgery, no problems (THANK GOD!), and I promptly end up with a fever and bronchitis. Pink eye gone though by this point. I stayed in Houston a few more days, but when the fever wouldn't let up, I decided to drive home. I have no idea, except by the grace of God, how I got home. I called Kevin every hour to check in. He and his brother were ready to come get me anywhere I needed them to, if needed. I made it though. That fever lasted 10 days, and as we now know, opened the opportunity for the parasites, that had been dormant for 14 YEARS, to become active. This was still June. For our anniversary, June 14, Kevin brought home Carrabas, and set the table with candlelight. My accomplishment for that day was taking a shower to be clean for dinner. Bronchitis is a booger! By November, the parasite decided to take over in the Denver airport! No, no, not anywhere close to home, or close to anyone I knew. DENVER! After one ER trip in Denver, one ER trip in Euless, countless medical exams, needles and pain, BINGO, parasites were found! Then, I detoxed. For the parasites, right?! Well, yes...and no. I've now discovered I am allergic to gluten, and this has been causing me problems my ENTIRE LIFE! Fortunately, this is a great time in America to be allergic to gluten. Awareness is high, and so are precautions in the food industry. So, this is where this chapter ends. My doctor is convinced that there is nothing else wrong with me. I just need to maintain a gluten free diet forever, which won't be a problem considering the reactions I have to it. Not pretty! Oh, and we have a beautiful new Spanish tile roof with energy efficient radiant barrier decking, two re-tiled bathroom showers, new paint and toilet in the guest bathroom, new plumbing in 50% of our home, and a brand new A/C unit (I bargained for all new duct work with the unit...yea me!). I've also been attending a leadership class at work that you have to be selected for, revived old friendships, revived my love for playing music, and feel like a bagillion bucks with this energy from being gluten free. I THINK that covers it. One more thing, we are looking into foster-to-adopt programs, and plan to be signed up by the end of summer. Ok, now I'm done. End of Chapter! AND...I'm putting the book in the freezer (Joey on Friends did this with scarey books).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gluten Free Pizza Crust: Dominoes and CPK

I am now full steam ahead into learning what I can and can not eat. There is a GF app that tells me what restaurants in the area (according to my GPS coordinates) offer GF menu items. It also offers reviews from people who have braved the GF moniker, daring to take that risk. The risk that we will not experience unmentionable things when we believe the corporate marketing monkeys who labeled "it" GF. We want to trust that what we are being told is the truth. The truth that gluten free REALLY means gluten free. We want to be able to sink our teeth into that bagel, wrap our lips around that perfectly swirled fork of pasta, or in my case, hear the crunch when I bite down on a thin crust pizza. The quest begins. I tried the frozen variety provided by Amy's Kitchen. Not bad, but not exactly what I was looking for. Then, last week, as pizza heard my cry (I should get drama points here), Dominoes came out with a gluten free pizza crust. I have never really been a fan of Dominoes. That cheap food taste has never been attractive to me, but I thought I would give it a whirl. Fortunately, I "whirled" it through my app first. Enter the corporate marketing monkeys! Dominoes makes their GF dough in the same place as the regular dough. It is NOT recommended by the GF gurus (I forget the name of it, but it's the Celiac Disease people) because of the inevitability of cross-contamination. I knew I didn't like Dominoes! Boo on them!
Now, here's a place where the marketing monkeys saw a reflection of themselves in the mirror. OUCH! That was ugly! They had a GF pizza crust, and realized they were also cross-contaminating their product. They REMOVED their GF options, and have partnered with GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group) to review their baking methods, and will reintroduce their GF crust when they get it right! WOW! Kudos to CPK and the marketing monkeys who are not just trying to make a buck, but also trying to make it right. So, there is hope. I have not tried any restaurant pizza, although I know GF out there. I've been recommended to BJ's Brewhouse, Fireside Pies, and Woodfire Grill. I love all those places, and I have no doubt that my unrelenting allergy will sniff out the monkeys. More to come...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I don't like it. How's that for a mushy, heart warming, lovey-dovey sentiment? I'm not one, I don't have one, and today brings that point home. It's always on Sunday. I go to church on Sundays. People either avoid me like the plague, or pity me. It's completely awesome. Best feeling ever. Every Mother's Day they hand out flowers and inspirational mothering books to all ladies at the door of the auditorium. Why wouldn't they? 99% of all ladies are either mothers, or have mothers. Our church provides three points of entry into the auditorium. I observe each of them, trying to decide who will pity me less. The one on the right...the elderly couple, who always ask how our adoption process is going? The middle door...Kevin's cousins who strangely have known me my entire life, and knew my Mom? The left door...a couple that is our age, who have learned that asking about the adoption process, which has taken 4 years so far, could mean they listen to another story of adoption disappointment? The lesser of the three evils? There isn't one, as far as I'm concerned. I pick one, then, I approach the door. Every time, the lucky person standing at the door I have reluctantly chosen tries to tell me it's ok for me to receive these items. The looks of pity emerge, and I am stuck trying to explain my way out of this. I never take them. As awkward as I already feel, how am I supposed to pleasantly toodle around carrying these symbols that remind me I am not someone who fits into this day. It makes them feel better to give it to me. It makes me feel better to not take them. It's the most awkward moment of the year. Then, there's my dad. Awkward for him, awkward for me. He wants to help, but talking to him reminds me of how much I just really don't like this day. Then, there's Facebook. EVERYONE posts about Mother's Day. The pictures, the family gatherings, the joys of being and/or having a mother. Oh, to have a Joanna hole that would hide me from this, the most awkward day of the year. If I don't stop blogging, and start getting ready for church, I'm not going to make it on time. Is this entry an avoidance method? In my best Sarah Palin voice...You Betcha! As my husband just pointed out, "It's dark-twisty-Joanna Day" (Grey's Anatomy Meredith reference). I don't want pity, and I don't want people to be uncomfortable around me. I want someone (who would have normally been my mother) say it's going to be ok, and keep moving on with the day as if it's ok for me to not be a mom, or have a mom. Huge sigh...I should go get dressed...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Blogging Intentions and Epiphanies

My intention for this blog is to document and share my experience as I change my eating, exercise, and other lifestyle habits, and become a more holistically healthy person. I was reading other blogs this week, and had epiphany #1. Most blogs have tips for life. The people writing want to help others achieve goals, whether in cooking, exercising, understanding politics, finances, etc. Epiphany #2: I should take the month of June and focus on a topic that is related to health, and make posts twice a week. Epiphany #3: I'll focus on Stress Management. I studied the impact of stress on health quite a bit in grad school. Epiphany #4: Today, I was told my blog is not interesting (after I had this idea), so I'm definitely going to try this new approach. Epiphany #5: I need a new blog host. Blogger doesn't make paragraphs or do line spacing. DRIVING ME CRAZY!! More to come.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She Was Giggling...Then, She Was Sweating!!

Getting back into my workout routine has reminded my why I enjoy going so much...people watching!! I was on the treadmill, which is on the second floor looking down over the weight machines. LOTS of good people watching from this perch of mine. I'm still only allowed to keep my heart rate under 120, so I'm really only just walking swiftly. Not much concentration needed to "get to the finish line" or make it just that one more minute. I can truly focus on my observation skills, which is favorite hobby of mine! This poor woman. She was wearing a baby blue t-shirt and navy blue capri sweats. She was morbidly obese. Her shoulder length, brown, curly hair was not pulled back, and was still in her "I'm going to work" look. Her trainer...KILLER! Oh boy! This isn't going to go well for this woman. I remind you that I have never completed a full workout with her before getting so dizzy and light-headed I have to stop. Hence the moniker. So, the workout starts and the woman is giggly and excited and happy. By the third exercise, red-faced, out of breath, shaking her arms around as if this will help them feel better, and fading fast. Her workout lasted 20 minutes instead of the full 30. Killer got her too. I applaud this woman for her efforts, and hope she can get out of bed this morning! In other gym news...I have a saying that goes "Once you see something, you can't un-see it. Be careful where you look!" Why I didn't take my own advice, I don't know. The sauna. I walked in, and at first found it humorous. Everyone in there, about 6 or 7 people, was pecking away on their iPhone. I thought saunas were for relaxing, deep breathing, and sweating it out without working it out. That's why I go in there. One, by one, they started to leave. As a natural instinct, I watch people walk out the door. I should change my natural instinct. What I saw on the other side of the door when it opened is now a picture in my head I would like to delete. Completely naked old lady! Saw it all! Front view! Can't take it back! She was standing next to the showers, so I can only assume she was headed that way. Why she couldn't save us from her show of glory by disrobing in the shower stall is beyond me. Also, why blogger won't let me make paragraphs is beyond me. There are some things you just can't explain...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Return

I've got it! Never had it before...not like this anyway! It's a weight lifted, a haze cleared, a struggled defeated! It's healing, freeing, and eye-opening. It's something I never knew I was missing...until now. ENERGY!!! Gone are the days of coffee-filled afternoons just to stay awake. Gone are the days of exhaustion after a long day at work. Gone are the days necessitating Sunday afternoon naps. Not to be confused with a spastic, jittery caffeine high. It's a steady, constant, alertness that doesn't wain. Being gluten-free has revived my entire being. What am I to do with this exciting new phenom? A hobby. Why a hobby? Because, just because :-) Music is my passion, although most who know me today would not know that. Music was my life, my motivation, my muse, my passion. I was innocent...then...I was lead astray. Lead astray by shattered dreams, politics, and heart-breaking disappointment. NO MORE, I SAY!! NO MORE!! "A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile." Yes, the piano and clarinet have made their call, beckoning redemption. Redemption for years of a passion suppressed. I finally have the energy to play, and I'm gonna do it! I purchased a piano a few months ago, and the musical cobwebs came flying off. I learned to play the piano when I was 4 years old. I could read music before I could read English (well, I guess I could read A, B, C, D, E, F, and G...duh). I am no Vince Guaraldi or Sara Bareilles, but I'm off to a good start, not having played since 6th grade...when I picked up the clarinet. I was MUCH better at the clarinet than I ever was at the piano. And, so, to revive that old flame, I went to the Southlake Community Band rehearsal last night. First time I've played since the last time I played, and that was 19 years ago. Last night was the first time it was fun since the "day the music died" 21 years ago. Don't think I won't keep my eyes peeled for those dream shatter-ers, politicians, and heart-breaking disappointers. I've had my eyes on them for quite some time now. This time, though...this time...I win, you lose! And, without further they are...piano and clarinet!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Mick Has Left The Building

I found out this week that The Mick is no longer training at the gym! WHO LET THAT HAPPEN???!!! Well, ok, he has to have a surgery, then he's going on a one month cruise with his wife. BUT, then, he's not coming back to the gym...sniff, hoo!! I would like to say that it was an absolute privilege to have him as a coach. His wit, his humor, his dirty-old-man behaviors, his knowledge of health and fitness, and his Christianity were all the things that inspired me to remain consistent, especially when I didn't want to. I wish I had a picture of him to share. Maybe I can work on that. My future training is now in the hands of Killer. I started back to the gym this week, and so far have gone once. I am supposed to keep my heart rate under 120, so I stayed on the treadmill for an hour walking. I'll keep doing that for a while, until I can get my stamina back up, and remind my body that it actually can move around more than from bed to couch :-) THEN...and ONLY THEN, will I let Killer back in my fitness life. I am still a bit leary of working out, since the last couple of times before this week ended in what felt like total annihilation because of my low energy issues. I have a couple of friends that go with me to keep me in check. Well, and for the social hour :-) Back to The Mick. My most memorable moment with him will always be the first training session I had, when he stopped mid-sentence of an exercise explanation, to watch blonde-bouncy-booby-babe walk by, then picked up exactly where he stopped in the sentence once she was past. Ahhh...good times :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gluten Free Brownies...and Communion

These are the gluten free brownies I made this weekend. I got the recipe from They are pretty good (especially with some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla on top), and I can tell a difference when I eat them compared to regular ones. This is truly amazing to me, that I've had this my entire life, and had no earthly idea. I felt like getting out this afternoon, when I would normally spend the entire afternoon asleep. I went shopping because...drum roll...I'm down ANOTHER SIZE, thank you very much!! I'm feeling so much better, and praise God for the discovery. (insert segway here) Speaking of God, I was at church this morning, and, as is usual, we take Communion. Today, I noticed I had an allergic reaction to the cracker. Now, this is going to sound crazy, but I've had these reactions every Sunday since I started taking Communion...6th grade. Also crazy, since the reaction is my throat closing up, I thought it was because I was feeling claustrophobic sitting in the middle of the pew, around so many people. What if I'm NOT claustrophobic??!! OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS CRAZY!! What if it's just because I'm allergic to the cracker, it closes my throat, and that's what's uncomfortable? AND, do you realize how SMALL of a smidgen of cracker I actually eat for Communion???!!! WOW! Amazing, I tell ya! Kevin and I googled gluten-free communion cracker, and there they were...on I'm bringing my own from now on, and it's about to get real spiritual up in here!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Like Sands Through The Hour Glass..., I begin the gluten-free days of my life. I'm amazed at this whole situation. First of all, there is such a joyful freedom just knowing what has been causing these problems. I don't have to be afraid of food, or guess if something is or isn't going to get me sick. It has been a week and a day since my last gluten consumption, and I still feel the effects of it. It takes a while for it to get out of the system...about a month, doc says. Over the last 48 hours I've been obsessed with reading about gluten-free living. Most of the information is on websites dedicated to Celiac;;; to name a few. When I started this blog, I had no idea it would take me here. I started with intent to feel better by changing my bad eating and lack of exercise habits. In my mind, when I think about all the things I'm going to learn about gluten allergy, and all the things I'm going to want to post here, I cringe, because I don't want to be another one of "those" blogs, where the focus is about the writer's aliments. BUT, we'll see how this goes. I'm embarking on something life changing though, I just know it! If I have more energy than I've ever had,well people need to brace yourselves :-) This is how I feel
And definately how I'm about to look!! Lost 22 pounds so far, and it's still coming off. (insert another jump here!!) Ok, and this girl seems more tan than I'll ever be, but these are just details...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I have hope after yesterday's visit to Doc Brown. I'm allergic to wheat, for sure. Not so much the other stuff. He gave me a run down of what wheat(aka. flour) is used for, in addition to the usual suspects. For instance, it's the white powder on gum. I chew gum everday to keep me from eating snacks in the afternoon. That means I'm injesting something I'm allergic to every afternoon. The extreme fatigue and muscle cramps are part of the allergic reaction. Additionally, I have an occasional burger (allergic to the bun), dessert (allergic to...deep sigh...cake), or pasta. I'm evidently so sensitive to wheat that even the occasional indulgence is a BAD THING!! I'm having a Celiac panel test today. He says that there is a spectrum of wheat allergy...from no allergy to Celiac disease. He does not think I have Celiac, however I am on that side of the spectrum with an intense allergy to it. We'll have a more specific idea of how allergic I am after the test today. Good news is I'm not allergic to potatoes, rice, quinoa, and a few other grains. OH! And the VERY interesting part is I've been allergic my entire life. He compared it to a smoker. The first time someone smokes, they cough, hack, choke, tear up, etc. After a while, the body adjusts. While the smoker doesn't feel the effects, the nicotine is slowly harming the body. Same thing here. When I was a baby, Mom and Dad gave me something with wheat. I became fussy, and it was attributed to just being a baby. My body got used to it, I didn't notice the symptoms, and it's been slowly harming my body. In January, I detoxed for the parasite, and now I feel the effects. SO INTERESTING!!!'s explains so much! I can think back, and recognize symptoms I was having that I attributed to other things. Anyway, I'm glad that's "all that's left to fix." I did some walking this week too, without getting dizzy. Hopefully, I can get back to the gym soon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Has Gone On WAY TOO LONG!!

What to say? I'm plugging along through this journey of restricted diet and random episodes of fatigue. I would love to sit here and type about my successful ability to overcome the diet restricitons, but such is not yet the case. At my last doc appointment he said I could start trying to add some things back into my diet, like raw veggies, gluten free stuff, and some grains. Well, so far, every time I try to add stuff, I have this wierd allergic reaction to it all. I have NEVER had food allergies, so this is really a shock to my psyche. I have been able to figure out that anything with flour, corn, corn products (corn syrup, corn starch, etc), and raw celery (cooked ok...random)cause these allergic reactions. The reactions are not pleasant at all, and have made me scared to eat. So, I've decided to stop trying things and just go back to the original restrictions. Less complicated, and less fearful. On a positive note, I was able to eat a mini Snickers without consequence...oh, happy day! Also, on a positive note, I have found that recipes are much better tasting without the canned products. I had no idea how much I relied on canned tomatoes. I love the fresh taste of the tomatoes, although when cooked, they are not as red as the canned ones. I haven't checked a can of tomatoes, but I'll be there's some dye in it or something. Things like chili, spaghetti sauce, okra and tomatoes, and veggie soup have taken on a remarkable new flavor. Then, there's the random, unexpected episodes of fatigue. This was a very common occurance when all this health stuff began back in November. It took me from November until January to be able to complete a full work week (which is, actually, only 32 hours for me...nice, huh). This week for the first time since then, I missed church on Sunday and a day of work this week. I just don't get it, but that's what Doc Brown is for. I'll see him next week. I'm just tired of all this change and stuff. I'm hoping for some resemlance of normalcy to rise from the rubble. Any day's coming...I'm sure of it! And, I realize this looks like some stream of consciousness thing. I tried to make paragraphs, and blogger is being stubborn today.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Texas Bluebonnets Are In Bloom

It's not all about physical health. Gotta have some fun too :-) We drove to Ennis, Tx today and toured the Texas Bluebonnet Trail. A-MAZ-ING!

And there were some animals out there too!
These are elk??? Maybe?? Really have NO idea, but look at the furry horns!
These are goats hearding themselves through the fence to the next pasture.
A beatiful day that I am thankful to have been able to take in.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back Sliding and Creepy Mustache Monster Man, integrity. Defined in a sermon I once heard as doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking. So, what is it called when you do the wrong thing when somebody IS looking? Back sliding, I suppose. Kevin saw the whole thing...all month long! I have not really had a consistent month, as far as eating right. I would say I had a 75% success rate, where in the months before I was knocking it out of the park at almost 100%. I'm gonna need to regroup! It's amazing to me how much stress zaps my resolve for consistency. Not just in eating, but sleeping, exercising, and other stuff. I'm sure that's normal on some level, but I really do need to regroup. Glad tomorrow is my Friday, and I'm leavin' town for some Tulsa time this weekend.

Also, this evening, Kevin and I saw Needs-to-eat-a-hamburger guy from the gym out in the neighborhood running. What an awkward runner!! He was all hunched over and looked like he was almost limping, and his arms were wagging all over the place. Dude has a new nick-name...Creepy Mustache Monster Guy. He has a mustache now too. It's too big for his face, very scragly. NOT THAT I'M JUDGING ANYONE...AT ALL!!!!! And, he DOES still need to eat a hamburger! NOT JUDGING!!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pictures From Honduras

I figured I would share more about Honduras than the fact that there might be parasites in the water. I went twice, once in December 1996, and then returned in May 1997 and stayed through September 1997. Here are some of the adventures. In these pictures, my hair is short because it was growing back in. I had finished my chemo treatments in August 1996.

My host family, Calvin and Linda Henry. Mr. Henry and my dad traveled to Columbia, doing mission work, back in the 80's before it was the drug/crime capital of the world.
Typical Honduran scenery seen on the way to missions in the mountains.
I helped out with translation in the clinics we visited.
And,here's a monkey :-)

A group came from ACU, headed by Harland Rall. Mr. Rall is another friend of my dad, also involved in mission work together.

This is the scenery at the school where we set up a clinic for the local village. The next pics show the set up of what we did most places we went.
Church groups would come in for one week, and have various missions. I don't have any pics of the homes that were built, but there was always a group building homes in addition to the medical mission.
Non-medical, non-spanish speakers removing lice from children's heads.

A typical triage scene at the school. Edwin Goodwin is on the left, and was in charge of the Clinica Amicus at the Baxter Institue, where I was living.
This is a nurse that came with a group from Tennessee, helping out with blood pressures on other vitals.

This is Edwin's wife, whose name I don't remember. She was the pharmacist, and is handing out meds to the locals.
I have no idea why I would have picked up some random rodent, but then again, I drank the water too.

That sums it up :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Adrenal Glands...Little Toboggans On The Kidneys

Apparently, one can put too much stress on their body. And, apparently, eating unhealthy foods, hosting a parasite for 14 years, not drinking enough water, combined with the normal daily stressors of work and home is too much stress on the particular, my body. Enter adrenal gland malfuntion.

On a side note, apparently the maker of the toboggan was inspired by adrenal glands.
Here's a picture of adrenal glands

Here's a picture of a toboggan

Anyway, adrenal glands make adrenaline. I didn't konw that. Funny thing is that when Doc Brown said adrenal gland, I heard a word with renal in it and freaked out. I work for a dialysis clinic, where people come for 4 hour treatments, 3 times a week in order to survive having End Stage Renal Disease...aka. kidney failure. Apparently, just because they sit on top of the kidneys, does not mean I'm starting to have kidney failure. May have overreacted there a bit. Eh, whatever :-)

Apparently, I have overworked my tobbogans over the past several months, and they have run out of gas. Nothing left in the tank. This explains why I am still so tired all the of the reasons. My thyroid is also out of whack. Doc Brown has me on vitamin B supplements. They're like a spa day for the toboggans. A soothing massage to get them ready for action once again.

In hind-sight, apparently, I should NOT have consumed the water in Honduras. Eh, whatever :-)

Number of times the word "apparently" was used = 6
Apparently, redundancy is my motto for today. 7

Friday, March 2, 2012

Time To Celebrate!!

I've lost 20 pounds! Who'da thought I could do that?! Certainly not me. I really haven't been motivated to actually lose weight during this whole thing, however, it's obvioulsy not a bad thing. The conversation with Doc Brown went something like this:

Me: "So, just so I can hear it out loud...this diet is not because of the parasite, but a lifestyle change for the rest of my life that I was tricked into?"

DB: "'s a lifestyle change you'll need to follow, or you can not follow it, and have to come see me every month for the rest of your life with something wrong."

Me: "I was tricked."

DB: "Ok" (insert devious smile)

So, on an obvious note, I feel so much better since I've started seeing him, that I'm going to accept the trickery that got me here. He did say that eventually, "NOT NOW", I'll be able to experiment with some foods (wheat, soy, corn, grains, sugar, etc.) to see what my sensitivity level actually is.

Back to the celebration...20 pounds!!! Holla!! Maybe it's because it's been 8 weeks since I've had anything sweet, but this was one of the best brownies EVER! It was topped with chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. FABULOUS! I had no problem digging in!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cake and Burgers

One effect of this strict diet that I've been on is a detox process. Apparently, one of the symptoms of detoxing is cravings. I typically have never had a habit of eating dessert after a meal. BUT...Now, if I could eat a whole cake after lunch and dinner, I would. I crave cake after EVERY meal. Specifically, something of the chocolate variety. Occasionally, coconut or strawberry. Well, I've developed a cake craving right now just talking about! Doc Brown says, "Oh, the cravings will pass." Wierd! Also, if I could have a burger every meal, I'd take it. Just a basic one with cheese, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and grilled onions. YUMMMM! The only thing I can actually eat right now is the burger patty and grilled onions, which I have been doing occasionally. Still, I miss the rest of the package. And if I could get my hands on some fries or onion rings, I believe I would consider it heaven. Again, I have never had such cravings for a burger and fries/onion rings in my life. All I can say is that I'm tapping into my roots, and my inner child is begging to get out!
See what I mean...
I won this battle with the chocolate ice cream cone, by the way :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012


The little booger has been evicted! No more parasite!! From unclean to clean in 6 weeks! (Well, and 14 years) There are a few more tweaks to get me completely back up to par, but I'm well on my way. I'm still on the diet until all is back to normal, but I can eat fruit! I've now lost 18 pounds, and just bought some new jeans at the next smaller, again! I had to cut a hole in my belt to make it fit. Uh...why did you just buy a new belt Joanna?? Because that would have made sense, that's why :-) I'm keeping what I'm now calling my "tent jeans" so I can do one of those pics where I am half the size of the jeans, when the time comes.

Some observations:
1. Organic food actually does taste better, and doesn't sit as heavy. I thought it was all a gimick...oops!

2. It's hard to hold your hands on your hips when the hips aren't there anymore. Hands keep slipping off, thus reducing the impact of the non-verbals. Hmmmm....

3. There IS a difference in bottled spring water. Ozarka now tastes funny. Been drinking Mountain Valley, cuz Doc Brown says the PH is lower. He's right...who knew?

4. Thought the grocery bill would spike with all this "healthy food." Nope! It went down about $40 a week. CRAZY!

5. I really like eggs, apples, and fresh green beans :-) (not all together in one dish...)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Funk 1, and Funk 2

Funk 1 and Funk 2 stem from the same place...the detox going on from this funky diet I'm on from Doc Brown to assist in the eviction of the little booger. To recap, I can ONLY eat protein (chicken, beef, certain fishes, nut butters) and COOKED vegetables. The only dairy I can have is from a goat, which is more available than who in the world ever knew.

Funk 1
So, I've eliminated all wheat, soy, cow dairy, corn, and sugar. My body is adjusting to the detox by providing a certain, specific, funky smell from the underarm area at certain, specific times of the day. Mainly when I get up in the morning! WHAT IN THE WORLD??!!?? I shower at night, get up in the morning, and BAM, there it is. SHEWY! It's not every day, but when it's there, IT'S THERE! I'm sure that makes me that much MORE attractive to my hottie hubby...HA! Doc Brown said, "Yes. That's your body detoxing." OH...well, excuse me! YICK! It's got me paranoid, but I'm sure this too shall pass. I also just thought of the "Pit of Dispair" in Princess Bride...random.

Funk 2
I've been eating this very restrictive diet for 5 weeks. I have "cheated" maybe 4 times. When I cheat, I pay the price. In about 24 hours I get so sick I can't go to church, work, or even get out of bed from a tremendous lack of energy. So, it would behoove me to stay the course...thousand points of light (Bush, Sr. reference). So, like tonight, I would like a burger and fries. Nope. Earlier today, my coworker traded his green card for American citizenship, and did I eat the chocolate cake. Nope. I go through everyday wanting something I'm not supposed to eat. In all the books, and talking to people who have changed their eating habits, they ALL say something to the effect of "You'll lose your cravings. You won't even want that stuff anymore." What kind of jacked up crack were they smoking!!??!!?? EVERY DAY I want something I can't have. It's getting on my nerves, and putting me in a sort of funk. Chicken and broccoli, chicken and zucchini, burger patty and asparagus, burger patty and broccoli. All this sounds fine and dandy until I have to cook ALL OF IT to make sure there isn't any sauce, or bread crumbs, or condiments, etc. Maybe everyone who changes their diet goes through this, but DANG already! Get this little booger out of me for pete's sakes!! Does anyone know who Pete actually is?? Just wondering.

And Kevin is my hero...he just fought with Olive Garden for me. He ordered for me. In this funk, I just couldn't make a decision. He ordered chicken with broccoli and zucchini, and clarified there would be no sauce. It came out, and it was on a bed of penne pasta with marinara. He made them remake I said, MY HERO!! :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

'Life is Funny...As In Peculiar, Not Haha"

My grandmother (Gaga...the original, not this hussy showcaed on today's version of music's top 20) used to say that...Life is funny, as in peculiar, not haha. Today is a day I totally agree! Here we are, in the midst of Bipolar Week, and I can, and can't, understand why it is the way it is. The events that dictate this to be Bipolar Week happened so long ago, however still evoke an array of emotions, different from year to year. The week begins in memory of my brother, with sadness, remembrance, what-if's, and still anger at times. The week ends with a celebration of my being cancer free. With this I am relieved, thankful, blessed, and encouraged. These events happened one year apart from each other, and were 17 and 16 years ago. Sometimes, the memories are like they were yesterday. Time is the peculiar paradox here. How can it be so long ago, and feel so close? Always in my heart, always moving forward, moving on.

Now, don't get me wrong. Life is FULL of haha. For example, I have now lost enough weight for The Mick to notice, and he said, "I was thinking you were a pretty girl, and now you've lost weight." What in the WORLD was that supposed to mean?!?!! I think I know, but I am FOR SURE NOT asking! Just gotta laugh.

I guess the peculiar and the haha get to balance each other out, and for that I am very thankful!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Mick Stood Me Up!!!

Ok, first of all...I don't get stood up!!! EXCEPT THAT I DID!!! He was there when I arrived at the gym. I went to the locker room to change, came back out, and he was GONE!! I was even ready 10 minutes early! He had even called earlier in the day to confirm our session! WHAT IN THE WORLD???!!! Well, I dunno what to say, except he BETTER BE THERE MONDAY!! And he has some answerin' to do!

In other news, I feel so much better than I did. Here's why:

I got rid of this
And this
Started drinking one of these every day
And have been taking these vitamins, minerals, and enzymes twice a day

All I eat is protein and cooked vegetables, and I have lost 7 pounds in two weeks. By the way, two Wednesdays ago I decided to go off his diet and have a nice spaghetti meal at Olive Garden. I had it with meatballs, the salad and breadsticks. Uhmmmmm...I paid for it for two days. Lots of pain, almost no energy whatsoever, and had some more personal issues. CRAZY, because how many times have I had that same meal and not had any trouble? LOTS! I learned my lesson, and I haven't "cheated" in 10 days. That's the longest I've EVER stayed on a "diet." I go see Alternative Medicine guy (aka Doc Brown) again today. We'll see what he has to say now, and what direction I am headed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Honduran Hauntings or Mexican Mishaps???

Where to begin? I spent many high school holidays and summers on mission trips to La Pesca, Mexico. It's in the middle of Mexico on the Gulf coast. Guess what their main industry (if you don't know spanish). We had many fish gatherings with the locals after long days of home repairs, church repairs, and Bible studies. We had a joke, because my dad would incessantly say "Don't drink the water" then, turn around and say, "Make sure you're drinking enough water." We would bring LOTS of bottled water.

Then, I lived in Honduras after college for 6 months helping out with various projects in various places (preaching school, local medical/dental/nutrition clinic, mountain villages, hospitals for the sick, hospitals for "crazy people", orphanages, etc.). Also, there was my motorcycle wreck in Honduras, where I made a judgement call that may not have been "good judgement" (Drank some water of unknown origin given to me by a local woman just after the wreck). My thought was that if there was going to be a problem, it would be a "24 hour" problem, and I would just deal with it. Who knows where this came from, but the good doctor is 99% sure I have had a dormant parasite for a VERY LONG time, and it's now active.

WHAT??!!??!! I haven't been to Mexico or Honduras in 15 years!!! He said, "It doesn't matter. What matters is that you were there." OY VEY!!! SERIOUSLY???!!! Yes...seriously. I am now taking enzymes to get rid of the little booger. It can take several months. My diet has been changed to protein and cooked vegetables only. Good thing I like protein and cooked vegetables :-) Everything else "could" cause irritation in the infected area, and the good doctor wants to reduce that "possibility," which is fine with me. Also, no sugar, because the little booger likes sugar. Roger sugar. No need to encouarge it...eeewww!

There were other things. I have two areas of pain, the other is the stomach muscle spam the hospital surgeon suspected several weeks ago. Also, I'm low on certain minerals, vitamins, and immune system levels. Taking minerals and vitamins to boost that up to normal. And, the good doctor is also a Chiropractor, so I had some "adjustments" in my neck and back. Talk about holistic! I still have some skepticism with this holistic/alternative/homeopatic treatment, BUT he hasn't done anything to harm me, and he makes the most sense out of anyone so far. I still have other appointments with other doctors to rule out a few more things. Just gotta keep praying and puttin' along.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Dude, I am seriously messed up! Why did you marry me?"

Kevin: "Are you serious?"

Me: "Yes! I'm sick all the time, and look at all these 'psychological traumas'!"

Kevin: "Because I love you! What are you talking about? You're not sick all the time."
(Notice there was no comment about the "psychological traumas"...HA!)

I started filling out the holistic doc's packet-o-questions yesterday. I have to list everything medically/clinically that has ever happened from braces to cancer. THEN, there's the section on psychological traumas. It seems that as a child, I had quite a few (and by few, I mean many) medical problems. I hadn't thought about all that in a LONG, LONG while. (Did I mention it's been a while?!!) And, I have NEVER just sat down to write it all down and look at it. It was/is just life. Now, it's life on a piece of paper, and it looks overwhelming...on paper. Hence the question to Kevin. The paper says I'm a complete train wreck. Now that I think about it, his dad was a train mechanic, repairing the train's breaks. Maybe, that's why Kevin feels comfortable with's familiar territory...HA!

Anyway, I'm also keeping a food log. It's very detailed, from time that I eat to what I eat broken down into the different food groups. No casseroles this week...OR I could attach the recipes...I'll think that through a bit later.

Ok, that's all for now. And for the record, I'm tired of not feeling well!

(When I looked up pictures of train wrecks, there were also photos of Mel Gibson, Brittany Spears, Kate plus 8, Murdoch, Lindsey Lohan, Charlie Sheen...well, you get the idea!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Confessions and Such

Not too far into this new year, and I already have confessions...woah! Not too bad though. I was going to quit blogging. I was getting bored with it, so I thought I'd be done. Well, things are getting interesting again, so I want to be able to look back and see how I made it through. Still no answer on what's causing this pain. I've decided to go to a holistic doctor. You know the kind. A whole body work up to include what I eat, how I sleep (or don't sleep), how I exercise, what causes me stress, how I relax (do I even do that??), etc., and then he comes back with some kind of way for me to "find my Zen" (just an expression people...nobody freak out). Herbal this and that, maybe accupuncture, maybe nutritional changes, Yoga...who knows. Several friends swear by this, and since conventional medicine ain't workin', I've got to try something. My mom went to one of these docs for a while, as did her best friend. It helped both of mom with her diabetes, and her friend with digestion. To control cholesterol, my dad is a vegetarian because conventional medication causes too many side effects. So, I guess the nut ain't falling far from the tree :-)

The Mick is working with me at a much lighter pace, so as not to aggrivate my issues, but still keep the workout routine going. I haven't weighed in a couple of weeks, so I have no idea how that's even going. Don't want to really. Walking helps the pain, for whatever that's worth. I've been trying to get about 30 minutes a day, but sometimes I just can't. I made it through my work week. Glad to have today off.

I have a "packet" coming from the good doctor, and I've had to start logging what I eat. Should be interesting!